Perceived control increases the reward positivity and stimulus preceding negativity

Christina Mühlberger, Douglas Jozef Angus, Eva Jonas, Cindy Harmon-Jones, Eddie Harmon-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


The reward positivity (RewP) and the stimulus preceding negativity (SPN), two ERPs associated with reward delivery and reward anticipation, are modulated by motivational intensity. Motivational intensity is the effort organisms would make to exert behaviors, and it varies with the difficulty of exerting that behavior. If a task is perceived as impossible, which means that one does not have control over own outcomes, motivational intensity is low. In the current study, we tested the prediction that perceiving control over one's outcomes increases both the RewP to feedback and the SPN prior to feedback compared to perceiving no control. We also examined whether P300 and LPP amplitudes to reward and nonreward images were similarly modulated. Twenty-five female participants completed a gambling task in which correct choices were followed by pictures of attractive men and incorrect choices were followed by pictures of rocks. To manipulate perceived control, participants were told that, in one block of trials, they could learn a mouse-click rule in order to see only pictures of men (high perceived control condition), while in the other block, the pictures would appear randomly (low perceived control condition). However, in both conditions, feedback appeared randomly. Although the RewP was elicited in both blocks, the RewP and SPN were higher in the high perceived control condition (i.e., when participants thought that they could influence their outcomes). Perceived control did not modulate the P300 and LPP to pictures. The results suggest that approach motivation and its intensity modulate the processing of performance feedback.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-322
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Early online date7 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Perceived control increases the reward positivity and stimulus preceding negativity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this